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Best Road Bike Brake Pads

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Once upon a time, cyclists had a single choice when purchasing a bike, but over time, distinct styles emerged from manufacturers worldwide ( road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, comfort bikes, etc.).  They all have in common brake systems – parts that slow down a rider’s pace or stop the bike altogether.

Since brake pads are at the heart of a system that controls these actions, your search for the best brake pads for road bikes is a very serious matter. That’s why we decided to gather this information for you and show you our five favorite brake pads for road bikes.

Shimano BR-6700 Ultegra – Our Pick!

Shimano BR-6700 Ultegra Caliper Pad Set

Affordable, highly rated and produced by a company that knows its way around road bike parts, this Shimano BR-6700 Ultegra Caliper Pad Set substitutes worn parts with stiff-but-light alloy replacement inserts that perform well in rain. For some, these Shimanos are relatively easy to install, but it could take a little work to get the pads to align with the wheel when tightening them down.

Will the $14 sales price get you a top-grade road bike pad set? Sort of. Expect solid response when you jam down that braking lever and as long as you do an adequate install, you shouldn’t be plagued by noise. That stated, some purchasers found this set to be a little deficient in the grip department, but that doesn’t mean they were dissatisfied enough to return them.

For a minority of road bike owners, this Shimano pad set came up short—-literally—-on stopping power; some calling responsiveness weak. But fans of these brake pads refute such claims. They suggest whoever replaced the pads didn’t do a very good job of installing them. For the price, you have little to lose and plenty to gain if they land in your shopping cart.

Origin8 Sports Road Pads – Also Great!

Origin8 Sports Road Pads

Meet the road bike brake pad that costs about the same amount of money as a Big Mac (with fries). Maybe less. At a price point of between $6 and $8 (black and red pads cost $2 less than clear ones), get a product made of an all-weather compound that fits most 50mm caliper braking systems.

You may be skeptical about this Origin8 product because the price tag is so low, and you may also be leery of this pad’s texture. These are soft pads-—perhaps softer than the brand you’re replacing, but in return, you may enjoy a smoother ride on dry surfaces and a good ride on wet surfaces, too.

Here’s a note that could assuage your price skepticism: according to one avid biker who assumed that Origin8 pads would not wear as well as a pricier brand: He purposely checked them after 100 miles of stop-and-go cycling and found them worn down only about 1 millimeter.

Trying to decide whether the black and red or clear pads are a better deal? Apparently, the clear pads have a propensity to be louder than the black ones, according to reviewers who describe the clear pad’s squeal after the installation as horrible, loud and shrieking.

Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads with X Pad

Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads with X Pad

Speaking of aesthetics, you may look twice at the $18 Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads with X Pad because they are attractive. This highly-rated road bike pad set is crafted of aluminum, includes a screw attachment for easy installs and the salmon-colored replacement pads are sturdy and attractive.

Kool Stop uses forged aluminum to manufacture the rim capable of dual pivot adjustments, and if you think the price of this product is excessive, understand that you get a second pair of replacement pads if you choose this system, a selling point not lost on budget-savvy bikers.

It’s hard to contain the enthusiasm of riders who say they would be happy to spend more to get the efficiency and performance they enjoy. One road biker claims his braking power is double what it was before he replaced his old pads with these Kool Stops.

The occasional dissatisfied rider points to unresolved installation issues. Another cyclist, who rides between 2,000 and 3,000 miles annually, also experienced problems fastening down the pads. That stated, as long as you are fastidious about your install, you should enjoy efficient stopping power, no matter how many miles you accrue.

SwissStop FlashPro Original Black Brake Pads

SwissStop FlashPro Original Black Brake Pads

Double your parts inventory by purchasing this set of 4 SwissStop pro brake pads for around $35, though if you choose a different color mix, you could spend as little as $23 to acquire this set. The rim is manufactured of aluminum and carbon pads feature deeper asymmetrical grooves than competitor products to increase safety and stability when riding on wet surfaces.

These pads are made of a proprietary compound that stands the test of time while delivering a smooth, quiet ride. Are you willing to pay the price for increased braking power? For folks who have tried other brands and returned to SwissStop, the answer is evident. Few install complaints further add to this product’s reputation.

What do shoppers complain most about when road testing these pads? Short life, followed by squeals, noise and the highest price in this review. One cyclist wondered if the company doubled up on pads because they wear down faster than most.

But if you’re willing to replace your pads more often in order to get the ride you desire, consistent performance and reliable braking power, it’s a trade-off the fans of this brand are happy to make.

Kool Stop Supra 2, Linear Pull Pads

Kool Stop Supra 2, Linear Pull Pads

If all you need is a pair of pads at a price that won’t exceed $12 from one of the most popular brands on the road bike scene, the Kool Stop Supra 2 could be the gift you give yourself when the time comes to replace your brakes.

These threaded pads come with 2 knurl-lock adjustment washers to correct any toe-in issues during your install. Supra 2 pads are made of hardened, plated reinforced steel and designed with a patented, angled tip plow plus grooves that make traveling through water a safer experience.

These lightweight pads get plenty of kudos for braking power, but you could–to quote a biker less than happy with the noise they make–sound like you’re piloting a freight train until they wear down a bit.

On the other hand, bikers who wouldn’t think of buying another brand run out of superlatives when describing the braking power they enjoy courtesy of these pads, so as long as you’re not dodging traffic, noise-blocking headphones and your favorite tunes could solve the problem until those pads are broken in.

Why high-quality brakes are important

Because the primary job of a braking system is to control speed, their importance can’t be underestimated from a safety standpoint. But road warriors receive additional benefits they may not realize. Let’s see these five benefits of high-quality brake pads for road bikes.

  • Superior braking power over the low-quality brake pads which is super important;
  • High-quality brakes make a difference in a rider’s confidence;
  • A solid braking system is safer and more responsive;
  • High-quality brakes give riders the courage to push their limits which will be shown on the clock;
  • Riders experience less stress because high-quality brakes respond intuitively;
  • You’ll have more fun if you select the best brake pads for road bikes;

What types of braking systems exist

You don’t need an engineering degree to understand the workings and components of road bike brake systems, but you should be aware of the two types of pads on today’s market.

The oldest and most common is the caliper (rim) brake, a system installed above the wheel and engineered to engage as soon as the lever is pressed. Calipers shift inward, toward the rim, so both pads can apply pressure in concert.

A growingly-popular and at times controversial – a type of road bike braking system is the disc brake. Once the exclusive domain of mountain bikes, this brake is preferred by some road bikers. Rather than being mounted above the wheel, disk brakes attach to the fork/frame. Should you choose one over the other? That depends on your style, budget, and the weather.

This video can help you learn more if you’re currently weighing your options. But this is not the main purpose of this article.

How to care for your brake pads

If you are seeking a great pair of rim brakes, look for either v-brakes or cantilevers. If you belong to the disc brake crowd, look for products that clamp the center of the wheel. Substitute worn rim pads with new pads that “have teeth, grooves, or some sort of pattern in the pad.”

Assess the state of rubber used to fabricate rim pads to see if it’s worn away, indicating replacement is essential. On the other hand, you will have to remove the wheel to check a disc brake’s caliper. When new, these pads have beefy linings that are from 3-to-4 millimeters thick.

A sure sign it’s time to replace? If a disc brake is worn down to 1 millimeter.

How do you know when either type of brake pad needs replacing? Even if you’re new to road biking, you are likely to detect subtle changes (e.g., when you depress the hand lever, it almost hits the handlebar).

But if upon examination, your brake pads look solid, you may be experiencing cable or install issues that need fixing instead.

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.